Use this guide to find the right SEO partner for your business.
First off, no two SEO campaigns are alike, so any agency that offers a standard, cookie-cutter solution for SEO is going to at best be unsuccessful and at worst be damaging to your business. You need a custom solution because everything about your situation is unique, such as:
However, there are four common SEO services that your business might need help with. These services include:
Onsite and technical SEO is a great starting place if you’re just getting started with SEO or are in need of a complete overhaul of your SEO strategy. These services assess your website’s ability to rank within the search engine results based upon industry best practices and advice straight from the search engines themselves.
These services typically include an SEO audit of your website to identify potential issues with your site’s code, structure, content, etc. and provide recommendations and fixes.
The words that searchers type into a search engine are referred to as keywords or queries. Optimizing your website for these keywords and phrases will help you rank within the associated search engine results pages (SERPs).
Keyword research services typically involve research into your niche and competition to discover how people are searching within your industry (and the questions they are asking) and how they are finding your competitors’ websites.
To rank for the keywords and topics your audience is searching for you need to have pages or content that addresses those topics. These pages also need to be optimized for those specific search results (based on searcher intent, preferred format, onpage search factors, etc.) to have the best chance to rank well.
These services typically involve an agency designing and creating web pages for your website based on keyword research, niche and audience analysis, and your specific goals.
Along with content quality, links are a major factor in determining search rankings. Search engines view links from other websites as votes or endorsements of the quality of your pages — the more relevant, quality links your page has, the better chance it has to perform well in search. This same principle applies to your website’s internal links — the more internal links you point to a page, the more important search engines will view that page.
These services typically involve an agency contacting other relevant websites within your space and promoting your pages to try to convince them to link.
The top SEO companies will be able to provide these services and explain how they will deliver them to you.
Asking the right questions during an interview with a potential partner is critical to finding the right SEO agency to work with. As you set up calls with prospective companies, keep these questions in the back of your mind and make sure to ask them during exploratory phone calls.
Use this handy cheat sheet to spot potential red flags as well as ask the right questions to drill down past the fluff and determine whether an agency is a good fit or not.
Unfortunately, there are some bad-faith actors in the SEO industry (which industry doesn’t have a few bad apples?). But the good news is they are typically easy to spot!
Keep an eye out for these red flags as you vet SEO vendors, and walk away immediately if you encounter any of them.
There is no transparency and/or they won’t clearly explain what they intend to do for you.
They are non-communicative or very slow to respond when you ask questions.
They provide the option to choose the anchor text of backlinks.
They promise thousands of links over a short period of time.
It’s not clear or easy to find out who the humans behind the agency are.
There is no office location or mailing address listed on the website.
The agency website isn’t indexed in Google.
You see mostly negative, few positive, or no online reviews and/or testimonials.
The company’s website lacks case studies or proof of work.
Claims to have a relationship with Google.
Guaranteed #1 rankings.
Says they will submit your website to thousands of search engines.
No evidence of thought leadership or industry involvement.
If you spot any of these red flags during your vetting process, immediately eliminate that SEO company from contention and move on. You need an SEO partner you can trust, and these red flags signal an unscrupulous vendor.
It’s time for everyone’s favorite SEO answer — it depends. Since every situation is unique (based on industry, competition, goals and objectives, complimentary marketing, etc.), there is no standardized pricing for SEO services. However, as you vet potential agencies with the tools you’ve learned here, you’ll be able to shortlist the best SEO companies and they should have similar price points. You can also learn more about the average SEO costs below.
There are no right or wrong pricing models for SEO, but to familiarize yourself with the potential options you might encounter during your vetting process we have shared the common SEO pricing models we’ve seen across the industry below.
Providing SEO services at an hourly rate is a common pricing model for SEO agencies. The average range for hourly SEO rates is $100-$150 per hour (according to Ahrefs).
Monthly or yearly retainers are also popular pricing models with the SEO industry. The average monthly retainer is ~$5,000 per month (according to Ahrefs).
Pricing on a per-project basis is another common pricing structure for SEO services. The average range for per-project SEO pricing is $501-$1,000 (according to Ahrefs).
Pricing model shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you think you’ve found the right SEO agency, but it’s good to know the pros and cons of each so you can evaluate whether or not they align with your goals.
There are many capable, excellent SEO agencies out there that can help you achieve your search goals. However, there are also incompetent firms and unsavory vendors that will gladly take your money and provide no results. Download this checklist to help you find the best SEO company for your business!
You can also get advice on hiring an SEO agency straight from Google in the videos below:
Read a complete breakdown of this video here.
Google also released this helpful video:
If you would like to learn how Page One Power could help you improve your search performance, please reach out here. You can also download our Field Guide to learn more about what it’s like to be a Page One Power partner.